Ban.jo’s network worth a look—at least to see if you’re already in it

Mar 8, 2012
Tech

Apps like Ban.jo freak me out, mostly because I like to pretend that parts of my life are still private. Part of me wants to tell you to stay away from Banjo, which is driven by sharing your current location and activity with anyone nearby. But the truth is, you’re probably already using Banjo (which […]

Apps like Ban.jo freak me out, mostly because I like to pretend that parts of my life are still private. Part of me wants to tell you to stay away from Banjo, which is driven by sharing your current location and activity with anyone nearby. But the truth is, you’re probably already using Banjo (which is available cross-platform including iPhone and iPod Touch), you just don’t know it.

The fact is, Banjo is aggregating information from other services. That means if you share that Foursquare check-in on a public Twitter account, Banjo will pick it up and share it with anyone viewing in a nearby radius. Extra creepy, yeah? But that’s what you get for putting the information into the ether. What’s more, Banjo has a profile for you on its service even if you aren’t actively using it. I first logged into the app last week—users can connect via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Gmail or Instagram—but my profile showed that other users had looked at my information back in October 2011. If a person is using Banjo, they’ll have a logo on their avatar, and most of the people who display near me don’t show this. I’m sorry for accidentally creeping on you, strangers.

There are a few pluses to Banjo, though. I like that you can set a distance alert for when friends are nearby. While apps like Foursquare can notify you anytime someone checks-in, it’s not the most helpful feature when you’re on the other idea of town. Banjo can restrict alerts to as little as a quarter-mile, which means you’ll only be alerted when a random encounter is possible. And, because you can include so many social networks, you’ll be able to manage a variety of relationships in one place. That’s promising, especially when paired with a nice looking UI.

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If you have an issue with Banjo using your public information, you should probably rethink other third-party services because Banjo won’t be the last company to do so. That’s actually more reason to give the service a look—the most recent update includes an option to turn off background location-sharing.

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